Ladder Association responds to HSEs recent £1.1m fine
A recent prosecution at Luton Crown Court has highlighted both the human and financial cost when work at height is not properly planned and managed.
The court heard that on 5 September 2016, an engineer testing a sprinkler system for leaks at a site in Hemel Hempstead, fell almost 3m after the extension ladder he was using slipped away from him. The engineer fell into the gap between the internal roof and the external wall resulting in a fractured vertebrae, soft tissue damage and severe blood loss, amounting to around half of his bloodstream, and led to him requiring a blood transfusion and 14 stitches to the head.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that reasonably practicable measures had not been taken to prevent a fall from the internal roof for both the engineer and other contractors working on the roof. The investigation further found that the principal contractor had failed to discharge its duty to ensure those not in their employment were not exposed to risks, in particular that of falling from height.
The company was found guilty of breaching Section 3 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and fined £1.1 million with costs of almost £69,000, one of the highest fines seen in recent years.
In response to this prosecution, the Ladder Association, the not-for-profit lead industry body dedicated to promoting the safe use of ladders and stepladders, is urging all those responsible for managing the use of ladders to take the necessary measures so, as far as is reasonably practicable, their employees are not exposed to risks to their health or safety.
Comments Gail Hounslea, Chairman of the Ladder Association, 'It is clear from this case that the company failed to put in place basic safety measures and in doing so, failed in its duty to ensure the safety of its employees and other contractors on site. Unfortunately, this avoidable accident had life-changing consequences for the victim. The level of fine imposed, in excess of £1m, is reflective of the seriousness of the incident and while we never wish to hear of these, we hope it does highlight the responsibilities placed on employers to keep their employees safe at work.
'The Ladder Association urges all companies who use ladders in the workplace to comply with their legal and moral duties to safeguard employees - by doing so, we know there is a far greater likelihood that accidents such as this can be avoided.'
Falls from height remain one of the leading causes of workplace fatalities and injuries - accounting for 40 fatalities in 2018/2019* - with many injuries having life-changing consequences for the victim and their families, even from relatively low-level falls. With record fines for failing to keep workers safe, the Ladder Association, through their award-winning 'Get a Grip' on ladder safety campaign, continues to urge all businesses to put ladder safety and training at the top of their height safety agenda.
For further information on the Ladder Associations 'Get a Grip' on ladder safety campaign and for links to download free ladder safety guidance, visit www.ladderassociation.org.uk/get-a-grip
Read the HSE Press Release.
* Source: HSE annual statistics for Workplace fatal injuries in Great Britain, 2019